Food and Behaviour Research

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The role of omega-3 on modulation of cognitive deficiency induced by REM sleep deprivation in rats

Nasehi M, Mosavi-Nezhad SM, Khakpai F, Zarrindast MR (2018) Behav Brain Res.  2018 Oct 1;351: 152-160. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.06.002 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Prolonged sleep deprivation causes cognitive deficits. In rats, for instance, sleep deprivation weakens spatial learning and long-term potentiation (LTP).

We examined the effects of omega-3 on cognitive deficiency induced by REM sleep deprivation (RSD). For this purpose, we used a fear conditioning paradigm, forced swim test (FST) apparatus, and hot plate test. Intravenously omega-3 injection was performed during 3 consecutive days. Rats trained in the fear conditioning apparatus after 24 h. During conditioning, animals were received foot shocks, either alone or paired with a sound. Sleep deprivation paradigm was carried out in which REM sleep was completely prevented and non-REM sleep was intensely declined for 24 h. Then, context-dependent retention, anxiety behaviors, and hot plate tests were done.

Auditory-dependent retention, anxiety behaviors, and FST were carried out 24 h later.

24 h of RSD impaired cognitive function, however intravenously administration of omega-3 improved (0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg/kg) context- or auditory-dependent memory, induced anxiolytic (1 mg/kg), antidepressant (1.25 mg/kg), and anti-nociceptive (0.25 mg/kg) effects.

The results revealed that RSD interferes with the neural systems underlying cognitive functions and supports the involvement of omega-3 in the modulation of cognitive functions.


In this animal study, omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced the negative effects of sleep deprivaton on memory, anxiety and pain-sensivitity.   
The findings support other evidence that omega-3 fatty acid status can affect the well-known association between sleep deprivation and impairments in cognition, behaviour and mood - including sensitivity to pain.